The Yankees didn’t get off to such a great start Wednesday as before the contest with the Phillies even began the club was forced to place Brendan Ryan on the disabled list, leaving New York without a backup infielder as Stephen Drew was on the paternity list. The Yankees bench consisted solely of Garrett Jones and Brian McCann, who was unlikely to be used after catching the night before. You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need and after Yankees starters had allowed at least six runs in each of the last three starts nothing was more necessary for New York than right-hander Ivan Nova returning to the mound in spectacular fashion after missing over a year due to Tommy John surgery. Nova threw six and 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out just one. The Yankees couldn’t have asked for more as Nova played the stopper in preventing a Phillies sweep in the Bronx. Mark Teixeira, who missed the first two games of the series, also returned and drove in two runs.
Key Moment(s): Despite adding five earned runs to Cole Hamels’ resume, the Yankees weren’t exactly crushing the ball as a lot of weak contact led to base hits and Phillies fielding follies. The top WPA play of the game was a fielder’s choice and throwing error with the bases loaded that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead early, so we’ll just move along.
The key moment of the game came in the third inning as after retiring the first two Phillies he faced, Nova allowed a single to Ben Revere and walked Cesar Hernandez. It was at this point that big bad Maikel Franco, who had torched the Yankees in the first two games of the series knocking in five runs in each, stepped to the plate. With two strikes, Nova almost had his first strikeout of the season when Franco appeared to have went around on a check swing. First base umpire Alan Porter disagreed, however, and that prompted a reaction from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected quickly before running out to first base to continue the discussion briefly. After the game, Girardi said that Porter told him to knock it off and that he said he would if Porter had gotten the call right, which apparently enough to get thrown out. Girardi almost seemed like he was more upset with getting thrown out quickly than the actual call on the field.
Anyway, Nova came back with a curveball to strikeout Franco for his only punch-out of the game. He cruised for most of the game and left to a standing ovation while waving his hat to the crown. The Yankees have been an up and down team so far this season, but the offense has come around even in the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury. If Nova continues to give the Yankees outings like this every fifth day, it would go a long way towards stabilizing the rotation.
Up Next: The Yankees are off to Houston, where they’ll face the American League West leading Astros. Adam Warren (5-4, 3.62 ERA) is set to face left-hander Dallas Keuchel (8-3, 2.35 ERA) on Thursday night at 8:10 eastern.
(Photo: Andy Marlin-USA Today Sports)